For the first time in five years, I'm not going to write about the Atlanta Hawks' first game of the regular season. For the first time in five years, I have no specific plans to write about the Atlanta Hawks at all.
First of all, I appreciate the irony of stepping away from the keyboard at the precise moment the franchise made a decision I've been advocating since 2008, just as the Hawks presume to be interesting and new in ways they haven't been over much of the last five seasons.
I'm here because the Kansas City Kings left town when I was 8 years old. As a result of that, I channeled my basketball interest into the college game. I have many great memories because of college basketball but, as a fan and writer, it turned out to be an aesthetic and intellectual dead end.
Secondly, I deeply appreciate everyone who took the time to read anything I wrote about the Hawks.
When I began writing about the Hawks, I didn't have a lot of things in my life that satisfied me. I didn't have anything that provided me a useful and interesting outlet. Writing about the Hawks, interacting with Hawks fans, and entering the genuinely pleasant community of the NBA blogosphere was (this is in retrospect, not something I consciously understood or appreciated at the time) profoundly important in my life.
So I'm also here because Atlanta Hawks fans were passionate and generous with their time and attention to one who adopted their team. Whether you agreed or disagreed with me, whether you let me know of said agreement or disagreement, the semi-public platform I created was an important and valuable part of my life for five years.
What comes next are the thank yous I probably should have expressed more often in the moment. Feel free to read the following, skim it for you name, or skip to the end, as applicable.
I'm here because, after one season of blogging about the Hawks here, Matt Bernhardt invited me to start a Hawks blog at SB Nation. Without that encouragement and opportunity, there's a very good chance I would drifted in yet another different direction after that first season.
I'm here because of the example Henry Abbott set at TrueHoop and the investment of his time, energy and talent in establishing the TrueHoop Network.
I'm here because Kevin Arnovitz called me, told me that Henry Abbott was starting a network of NBA blogs under the TrueHoop banner, and asked if I'd like to write about the Hawks for them. The call surprised and flattered because of my admiration for Kevin, first through his writing at ClipperBlog, even moreso as I've gotten to know him over the years.
I'm here because, on that first phone call, Kevin told me they were getting Kurt Helin and Mike Kurylo for the TrueHoop Network. Both fine writers and, if it hadn't been for Kurt and Mike taking me up on my offer to contribute at CourtsideTimes.net, I might never had made the transition to writing about the NBA.
I'm here because of the people who have made up the TrueHoop Network, because of the colleagues I saw once a year (if that), because of those I've never met in person, all of whom remain comfortably simpatico. There are tens of people I now know with whom I fondly remember sharing a drink, a conversation, and laughs and look forward to doing so again at some unspecified moment in the future. I'm not so foolish as to start a list and leave off one of the many, many friends I've made through the TrueHoop Network. Thank you all.
I'm here because the NBA editors at ESPN.com are really super, generous with both their time and assignments. There is no doubt the opportunities I received there, from being a part of the TrueHoop Network, added legitimacy to the time I spent writing about basketball. Same goes for Bradford Doolittle and Kevin Pelton inviting me to share a little corner of the Atlanta Hawks section of three editions of the Basketball Prospectus annual.
The longtime and old-time Hawks bloggers deserve their own paragraph. A special thank you to Drew and Larry and CoCo and Jason and Kris for the conversations and arguments we've shared, as well as the unexpected delights the Hawks have provided us over the last five years amidst the somewhat more predictable* disappointments. Hawks blogs are as strong as they've ever been, in my opinion, and I look forward to getting to know better the emerging writers. I think this is the spot where I should say I'll still be on Twitter, pitching woe and delight in unequal measure as the Hawks play.
*The Hawks will win 47 games this season. Josh Smith will not be traded, but Devin Harris will.
I'm here because Buddy Grizzard, James Goeders, and Mark Phelps stepped up and recapped a bunch of games this season. Without their efforts, Hoopinion probably would not have survived the lockout.
I'm here because a part of me -- not the best part, mind you -- draws energy from critics, willful mis-readers, and those troubled by my conscious rejection of certainty. One doesn't follow this path for five years because of the money. One follows this path due to some need for attention.
I'm here because Alison Weldon has been tremendously patient regarding the amount of time I've spent watching, thinking, and writing about the Atlanta Hawks over the last five years.
I'm going because I'm marrying Alison and because I found a real job. These two things are related, and wonderfully so. Miraculously, really, when it comes to the former. Both of those developments are an outgrowth of the work I've done here. Hoopinion has served as a way station between an old, uncertain self and one embracing adult life, for better and worse. Mostly better. It is bittersweet that, as my life has developed in these wonderful ways, it crowds out the time necessary to give this effort, which I also love, the attention it deserves.
I don't think I'm going because I'm running low on valuable things to say about the Hawks, but I've been spectacularly, hilariously wrong before and better to leave the party early than for your host to find you passed out on the bathroom floor. Or so I've heard.
Regarding that, if anyone reading this is on the fence about starting out in this, or a similar arena, especially anyone young, my advice is to write. Make yourself do the work. The rewards will often seem ephemeral, at best. Then, looking back, they appear vast. And unending.
If you bet it hit rim, proceed to the window and collect your money.
Thanks for reading, everybody. It's time for me to go.